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Mr. Jeffery Ventrella VS Prof. Mary Anne Case
Mr. Ventrella is Senior counsel and Senior Vice President of Strategic Training of the Alliance Defense Fund and Prof. Case is the Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and a
Former Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia. The debate is resolved: The institution of same-sex marriage in the United States
would be beneficial to American society.
RESOLVED: The institution of same sex marriage in the United States would be beneficial to American Society.
AFFIRMATIVE: Professor Mary Ann Case
Professor Case began her argument by noting that her initial argument was limited in scope to civil marriage and not religious marriage. While Professor Case noted the “peculiar relation” between civil and religious marriage, this relation was not addressed directly by either side.
Professor Case then defined “Institution” as a “recognition of the possibility” of marriage between a same sex couple. She also noted that she was not arguing for a new kind of “same sex marriage,” but rather marriage generally being available to same sex couples. This distinction was important to Professor case, as it was a perspective that guarantees liberty and equality to same sex couples commensurate with those liberties afforded to opposite sex couples.
Professor Case argued a unique feminist perspective on the institution of marriage. She argued that the eradication of fixed notions concerning the roles of males and females in society is one of the main goals of the feminist perspective. Marriage, she claimed, is one of the few remaining legal institutions where sex-based differences are still recognized and promulgated through recognition of law. The notion that marriage requires one of each sex undermines the notion that the sexes are equal and should be treated as such. Professor Case traced the evolution of female recognition throughout American jurisprudential history. In the earliest stages, women (wives) were legally subordinated to their husbands and did not have the ability to enter into contracts or perform basic legal functions, nor were women recognized as full citizens. Next, women were granted a “separate but equal” treatment in the law, where women’s rights could be recognized by the law independent of her husband. However, during this time sex differentiation was fixed in law. Now, the only legal distinction remaining differentiating the sexes is that one of each is required for marriage. This condition, Professor Case asserted, would be rectified by the recognition and institution of same sex marriage in the United States.
Professor Case then argued that same sex couples were benefiting the institution of marriage already, even without legal recognition. By extending marriage to same sex couples, the institution of marriage would be fortified by strong relationships between same sex partners. This is in contrast with the declining success rate of marriage. Professor Case noted that if marriage is “the gold standard,” for relationships, same sex couples should be recognized because they “are doing relationships well.”
Finally, Professor Case noted the efficiency that would be added by instituting same sex marriage. Such an institution would be administratively simple and would standardize relational statuses throughout the states.
NEGATIVE: Mr. Jeffrey Ventrella
Mr. Ventrella began his negative argument by noting the areas for agreement between the affirmative and negative arguments. He recognized that both agreed on the aforementioned definition of “institution,” as well as a common understanding that there is no separate category for “same sex marriage.” There is the question before the debate whether same sex couples should be allowed to enter into marriage, as it already exists. Mr. Ventrella concluded that there were neither philosophically, nor legally justifiable rationales by which this could be so.
Mr. Ventrella then concluded that both sides were making “moral” arguments. By arguing normatively (what the law should be), each side was effecting a standard of what is right or good. Because this imposes a moral question, Mr. Ventrella concluded that it presupposes an absolute standard and that creating a legal or political distinction devoid of moral implications was therefore impossible.
Mr. Ventrella noted three reasons why same sex marriage cannot be instituted in the United States. First, precedent does not allow justification of same sex marriage. Second, providential and historical experiences are informative and relevant to the question. Third, the nature of male and female sexes suggest that same sex marriage runs counter to what is practical in society.
Noting that sexual orientation and preference were not at issue, Mr. Ventrella emphasized the importance of structure. He then asserted that marriage preceded the state and was not a creature of the state. State recognition, therefore, is in the context of the structure.
Mr. Ventrella argued that the state has a peculiar interest in marriage because it epitomizes how members of the opposite sex interact with one another and what they do: reproduce. Mr. Ventrella noted that the governmental interest stems from how male-female relationships can benefit society through reproduction and the creation of offspring. Because same sex couples are physically incapable of reproducing absent third parties, Mr. Ventrella concluded it was not in the best interest of the state to recognize same sex marriage because the state has an interest in channeling responsible procreative conduct. Mr. Ventrella asserted that without responsible reproductive conduct, situations are created where fathers are absent from the home, women are exploited, and children are not benefited.
Mr. Ventrella concluded his argument by citing Charles Murray’s research. Murray’s latest book asserts that households with a father and mother, on the aggregate, are most stable and yield children that are statistically most successful.
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